Government takes action to improve company transparency

In April 2014, the UK government published proposals to improve transparency and accountability of companies. It is proposed that a central registry of company beneficial ownership will be established at Companies House and will be publically accessible. Individuals who ultimately own or control more than 25 per cent of a company’s shares or voting rights will be classified as ‘beneficial owners’. Companies will be obliged to provide information about their beneficial owners on the central registry as well as maintaining their own register.

New powers will be introduced to enable companies to investigate which persons are ‘interested’ in their shares. Beneficial owners will also have a continuing obligation to disclose their identity and how their beneficial interest is held. On incorporation, a company will have to provide an initial statement of beneficial ownership, and the company will have to update this information at least once every 12 months.

Along with this, the government states it will be making efforts to clarify and simplify procedures for the convenience of companies and individuals alike. The aim is to rationalise requirements for business, allowing companies to provide the most useful set of information in the most sensible way, with new requirements reducing duplication or complexity while minimising opportunities for companies and individuals to evade requirements…

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